Barons fall 2-1 in Open Cup thriller

Harrisburg moves on to host DC United in the third round

When the final whistle blew, nearly all of the 1,019 fans in attendance were on their feet, paying tribute to one of the most entertaining games in club history. In the end, the Ocean City Barons fell short, 2-1 to the USL Second Division’s Harrisburg City Islanders in an exciting U.S. Open Cup match featuring end-to-end play and exceptional goalkeeping. David Schofield scored the game-winning goal just after halftime and the City Islander defense survived a frantic second half to secure a home game against DC United of Major League Soccer in the third round.

Both goalkeepers came up big for their respective teams. Former Baron Matt Nelson made seven saves for Harrisburg, including a jaw-dropping diving save in the 64th minute to secure the win. Adam Edwards made 15 stops for the home side in the losing effort.

Both teams created several near chances in the first half, but it would be the Barons to strike first. The Barons were on the move up the left wing, and the ball found it’s way toward the middle of the field. The pass was played across to a streaking Leon Brown, who fired a shot on goal which was saved by Nelson. However, the goalkeeper batted the ball into the air, deflecting it off the under side of the cross bar and down into the goal.

The fans were still celebrating when Harrisburg raced back into Baron territory to earn a corner kick. After the ball was cleared by the back line, Brian Ombiji sent the ball back into the fray and Chad Severs received the pass in the box, then turned and slipped it past Edwards to pull the game level at 1-1.

Harrisburg nearly added a second goal before the break when Anthony Calvano sent in a cross from the left wing which found Ombiji at the far post. Ombiji connected, but Edwards was quick to cover, making a kick save to keep the game level.

After the halftime break, Harrisburg carried on the momentum, moving the play up the left wing. Ombijii and Severs showed some nice combination play in the left corner, but it was Severs who dribbled toward the middle and played a ball across to Schofield who buried it to put the City Islanders up 2-1.

The Barons saw their best chance of the game pass them by in the 64th minute. One minute earlier, Lee Catchpole entered the game, replacing Kyle Evans on the left wing. Rob Youhill, who made his first start of the season, created space along the touch line, broke into the box and found Catchpole all by himself at the far post, six yards from goal. The pass came across the mouth of the goal, and Nelson sprinted from one post to the other and dove down to the ground and got just enough of a hand on the ball to push it past the post for a corner kick.

On the ensuing corner kick, Sean Boyle delivered a ball into the center of the box which was cleared out to the top of the 18. It was there when Adam Sternberger blasted a volley, much like Benny Feilhaber’s goal for the United States against Mexico in the Gold Cup final, except he pushed the shot inches over the crossbar.

A few minutes later, the Barons threatened again with a corner kick from Boyle, delivering it to the far post where the ball was brought down and shot from close range, only to be saved off the line by Schofield. In the 70th minute, another Barons free kick was delivered into the penalty area and the ball found its way to Catchpole in nearly the same position, but he was denied again, this time by a defender in front who cleared it off the line.

Two minutes later, Brown nearly equalized. Sternberger fed the ball to Byron Carmichael in the middle of the field who hit a one-time pass to the right wing where Brown was streaking in just like he did for the opening goal, but this time Nelson came off his line to cut off the angle and made the save.

The Barons saved a ball of their own off the line when Harrisburg earned a corner kick in the 81st minute. Sternberger was positioned at the far post, when the ball was sent into the center of the penalty area and headed toward goal. The Rutgers player stood his ground and kept it off the line, giving Edwards a chance to secure it.

The Barons would continue to threaten to the very end, but the City Islanders’ defense would hold strong and punch their ticket to the third round.

With their Open Cup run coming to an end, the Barons can shift their focus back to the league. This weekend, Ocean City will play back-to-back games at Richmond and at Virginia on Saturday and Sunday respectively. The Barons have one more road game after that before they return to Carey Stadium on July 8 for the first of four home games to finish the regular season. For more information on the Ocean City Barons, visit the official website at www.ocbarons.com.

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